After state moves to cut drug-prevention funds, suburbanite opens wallet
Philanthropist Larry Goodman of Skokie, Ill., speaks to reporters Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. Goodman, who founded the Skokie-based Cebrin Goodman Center, has committed $1.1 million to a Springfield-based youth drug prevention program, the Illinois Teen Institute, which will now be known as the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute. In February, the proposed elimination of IllinoisÌ entire $2.6 million youth drug prevention budget by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn caught the attention of Skokie resident Larry Goodman who unsuccessfully advocated against the cut, but eventually reached for his own checkbook to help save youth drug prevention in Illinois. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Updated: August 20, 2012 11:50AM
SPRINGFIELD — After the state moved to cut drug-prevention funds by more than half, Larry Goodman dug deeply into his own wallet without hesitation.
In doing so, the 88-year-old Highland Park philanthropist and real estate investor did what Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois lawmakers couldn’t. Goodman offered up $1.1 million of his own money to keep the state’s drug-prevention programs up and running.
And his motivation was as pure as it was simple: His 22-year-old granddaughter, a straight-A college student, died a decade ago from a heroin overdose.
“If I saved one life through my efforts, I would be satisfied. If it took millions of dollars to save that one life, I would be happy if that was the result,” Goodman said at a Wednesday news conference, where his donation was announced by the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.
Earlier this year, facing a multibillion-dollar deficit, Quinn proposed cutting the state’s $2.6 million drug-prevention budget entirely, but lawmakers moved to restore $1 million of that amount in the spending package the governor signed this summer.
“These devastating cuts helped prompt Mr. Goodman, who lost his granddaughter, Cebrin, to a drug overdose, to reach into his own checkbook and help save drug prevention in Illinois,” said Sarah Potter, program manager for the newly named Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute that Goodman’s money will help fund for the next three years.
“The decision to cut drug prevention in Illinois right now is akin to eliminating fire hoses when homes are burning,” she said. “Every corner of Illinois is being scorched by a heroin wildfire, and the youth in our state are the ones being harmed.”
The institute will launch its outreach activities under its new name later this month, when it convenes a drug-prevention conference at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington that several hundred high school students from across the state are expected to attend.